Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Film reviews: Danny Collins, Man Up and Rudderless

Danny Collins
Danny Collins (Al Pacino) is an ageing pop star, well past his sell-by-date but still milking the cash cow by singing his old songs to his similarly ageing fans.  When his manager finds a letter that was written to Danny in 1971 by John Lennon, but which he never received, it gives him cause to reflect on how his life may have turned out if he had received it and taken up Lennon’s offer of support, and decides to make some changes to his life. The drugs, the ‘half-his-age’ women and the party lifestyle all come to a halt and he moves into a hotel to write some new songs, and be near to his estranged son and daughter-in-law (Bobby Cannavale and Jennifer Garner) and make amends for his past misdemeanours. 

Very loosely based on a true story, this film has a lot of heart. Yes it’s a bit sentimental, but it’s not as predictable as you might expect. Halfway thought the film I thought I’d figured out the rest of the storyline in my head only to be wrong about almost everything, which is good.

There’s a lot to like about this film. The cast, for starters, is great.

For this film to work, Danny Collins –  ‘a ridiculous man’ - has to be likeable, and he is: Pacino  is very likeable in the role and I was rooting for him to do the right thing. He has some great dialogue with Annette Bening – the manager of the hotel  – who becomes a friend and potential love-interest, and it’s always good to see Captain von Trapp Christopher Plummer, who plays Danny’s loyal friend and manager.

The other main character in this film is John Lennon, who looms large throughout. His music carries the storyline along beautifully and still sounds as fresh as a daisy. My god, I'd forgotten how much great music he made! I was feeling a bit disappointed not to hear Instant Karma only to be rewarded with it during the credits. Such a great song and a lovely, heart-warming film. 

Man Up
Man up film poster
A single woman is mistaken for someone else's blind date but goes on the date anyway, in this comedy with Simon Pegg and Lake Bell. Pegg plays the same character he plays in every film, and Bell is American but has a perfect English accent.  Rory Kinnear also does a very funny turn as Bell's creepy ex-schoolfriend.

I liked it, didn't love it, but it did have some very funny moments. especially when Kinnear's character is on screen.

It's a 15 rating, but bear in mind that if you take your 15 year old to watch it (like I did) you'll have to sit through dozens of jokes about oral sex. Yep, awkward.

You can view the trailer here.

And finally, a word about a film we watched quite by chance. Rudderless, which is currently on Netflix, is the story of a grieving father who discovers his deceased son's songwriting book and demo tapes. At first he uses the music as a form of therapy but things get complicated when he starts to pass it off as his own work. A really interesting story with great music and an unexpected twist halfway through, we really enjoyed it and were still talking about it a couple of days later. Definitely worth a watch.